First-quarter building output up 4.4pc
OUTPUT in building and construction during the first quarter was up 4.4pc on the final three months of last year, according to the Central Statistics Office.
On an annual basis, volume jumped 10.7pc on the same period in 2012.
But civil engineering continued to suffer, with a decline of 0.7pc in volume.
Stockbrokers Davy said the sector will not be the drag on growth this year that it has been in previous years, with construction investment expected to rise in 2014.
"It appears that there has been some stabilisation in the construction sector over the past number of quarters," said Davy's David McNamara.
"Output has now expanded in three of the last four quarters.
"However, firms have yet to respond by increasing staffing levels."
Mr McNamara pointed out that employment in the sector fell 4.5pc in the first three months of the year.
"So firms are keeping costs to a minimum as yet, despite the apparent pick-up in activity," he said.
The figures follow a bleak report earlier this week from Ulster Bank which showed the sector continues to face sharp declines, with the rate of job cuts in May the fastest of the year so far.
It said the sector remained deep in contraction during May, with further sharp declines in activity and new orders recorded, according to the latest Ulster Bank Purchasing Managers' Index.
Civil engineering was the worst performing sector, and was the only one to see a sharper reduction in activity last month than in April.
The Construction Industry Federation said the 4.4pc increase was welcome.
"It's too early to say that the decline in construction activity is over, but this is a positive signal," said CIF director general Tom Parlon. "We are definitely seeing some optimism returning to the industry.
"The mood amongst our member companies has changed significantly from this time last year."